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Eagle Eye Observations: Week 2


I would have preferred to avert my eyes during most of yesterday’s debacle at the Linc. As bad as it was, I’ve seen worse. Believe it or not, they did some good things. However, those positives drowned in a sea of negative.

  • 1-5 in the red zone is disturbing. Reid’s unwillingness to slam his runners up the gut inside the ten continues to be a serious issue. A halfback option pass to the fullback? The design was there, but Westy‘s throw was off. My problem is why run this play at all? You brought in a massive left tackle and a powerful lead blocker, and still the running game is invisible in the red zone. This tells me Reid still has no confidence that his line and backs can pound it over the goal line. Either that or he feels he can get more favorable matchups on the outside. Whatever the case, it didn’t work. Field goals and turnovers won’t cut it against teams like the Saints.
  • Speaking of the fullback. Weaver had one touch: a catch for zero yards. In two games, he has gained a total of 8 yards on three touches. So much for utilizing the fullback more. Sounds great in theory, but the coaches have to actually call his number for him to be a factor.
  • 7/16 on third down is an improvement over last week’s 5/13. Needs to be better, though.
  • 463 total yards of offense and 378 net yards passing tells me a couple things. They can move the ball on most teams, especially through the air, and Kevin Kolb can run the offense.
  • The trio of DeSean, Celek and Avant is more than enough to scare defenses. They combined for 285 yards and a pair of scores. Now if they could only get the backs more involved. Remember when the Eagles used to run screens?
  • 16 penalties in two games is ridiculous. Five on the special teams alone on Sunday. Ted Daisher’s unit cost them a shot at a win. Chris Clemons has been flagged in each of the first two games for costly mistakes. If this continues, the Birds will lose more games.
  • The story on defense can be summed up with the following two numbers: 1 and 1. That’s the number of passes defended and quarterback hits. By comparison, last week those numbers were 10 and 10. If the front can’t pressure the quarterback, the quarterback will find open receivers. If the defensive backs don’t make plays on the receivers, the receivers will excel.
  • Asante Samuel was beaten badly by Colston on the first touchdown, and was embarrassed by Bush in the open field. He also gave way too much cushion to Henderson on a deep out pattern. The entire secondary was on their heels all day. Where was the tight, aggressive man-to-man coverage? Even when it was there, Brees threaded the needle.
  • Macho Harris can hit and tackle. He made two nice stops to prevent first downs. He was also in on Parker‘s sack and forced fumble.
  • Shady had better learn how to tuck the ball into his body. He put one on the ground last week (after he was down) and got it swatted from behind yesterday. So far, it hasn’t bit him, but it will eventually. Either the coaches aren’t teaching him, or he isn’t listening. With Westy gimpy, he will be asked to assume a larger role. Fumbles are unacceptable.
  • Toss out a couple garbage time catches by Kevin Curtis, and he was once again conspicuous by his absence. Is it the knee? The groin? Whatever it is, he’s dropping catchable balls and looks slow.
  • After the opening drive, the Saints tight ends weren’t much of a factor. Not that they needed them to be, but McDermott appeared to adjust.
  • Akeem Jordan came to play in ’09: 8 total tackles, three for a loss, 1 INT and 1 PD. He had the lone PD for the entire defense. His acrobatic interception was a thing of beauty.
  • Trent Cole had another sack, a tackle for loss and a QB hit. However, against a backup left tackle left alone most of the game, I expected much more. To be fair, he was the only guy who seemed to get in Brees’ face.
  • Sav Rocca got screwed on a couple punts by infractions, but he also had a case of the shanks. Like almost everyone else, he was sub par.
  • Kolb made two terrible throws. The third down pass to Jackson near the end of the first half and the out pattern that was picked off by Scott Shanle early in the third quarter. The two late picks came when the game was out of reach. Since his defense and special teams offered little help, I thought he played his ass off. He earned another start next week, and it looks like he will get it.
  • The direct snaps to Westbrook were a new wrinkle that should be explored further. He busted one off for sixteen and looked comfortable in the Wildcat formation. Of course, now he’s hurt, so who knows when we’ll see it again.

The inability to get into the end zone and the mountain of mistakes on defense and special teams resulted in a cringe inducing blowout. I’m confident the offense is fine, whoever is under center.

The JJ scheme has always had trouble with prolific passers like Brees. Brady hung 31 on them in ’07 and Peyton shredded them for 45 in ‘o6. Not to mention Kurt Warner in last year’s NFC title game. If they can’t get to the quarterback early and often, they will struggle.

We got fourteen games left, folks. No reason to start preaching doom and gloom. The Saints look like the Rams from the late ’90s. Stopping them will prove difficult for most of their opponents. It’s a cliche, but the Birds really need to get back to fundamentals. Tackling on defense, execution on offense and smarts on special teams. If they do that, they’ll be just fine in ’09.

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